Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been facing increasing pressure to resign following Sue Gray’s public update on her report into lockdown-busting parties at No. 10 and what has been described as a “scurrilous” smear against Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer.
Gray’s ‘partygate’ report, which has not yet been released in full as it is the subject of an investigation by the Metropolitan Police, referenced “failures in leadership and judgement,” and said that No. 10’s “excessive consumption of alcohol” was “not appropriate in a professional workplace at any time.”
Four or Mr Johnson’s key advisers resigned on Thursday, leaving the Prime Minister further isolated as he battles to stay in No 10.
Long-term ally to Mr Johnson Munira Mirza quit as the director of the policy unit in anger over his use of a “scurrilous” Jimmy Savile smear against Starmer.
Then chief of staff Dan Rosenfield, principal private secretary Martin Reynolds and director of communications Jack Doyle followed her out of the door on Thursday.
The three men were embroiled in the partygate scandal.
Earlier in the week, a Liverpool City Region MP joined the growing calls for Mr Johnson to stand down after reading out to the House of Commons a heart-breaking story of a family’s bereavement as they observed lockdown rules during the time of the partygate allegations.
Derek Twigg, Labour MP for Halton, said: “Let me remind the Prime Minister why this rule breaking and the way No. 10 behaved matters.”
A heart-breaking loss
Mr Twigg went on to tell the story of a Halton resident who was only able to watch helplessly through a bedroom window as her mum passed away during the same period the PM is alleged to have broken COVID rules.
The story was one of many read out from both sides of the chamber during a heated debate in the Commons following the Sue Gray report.
Mr Twigg said: “Let me quote a constituent. This is from one of a number of emails I have had from constituents who have lost loved ones. She said: ‘We received a call at 11.15pm on May 29 saying mum was deteriorating.
“Both my sister and I drove to the home and I spent the night sat on a chair outside her bedroom window watching her die. All I could do was sob and shout to her and tell her that I loved her. I couldn’t even hold her hand’.”
He would then add: “That is why you should go, Prime Minister.”
The Prime Minister’s response
In response, Boris Johnson said: “I totally understand the feelings of the honourable gentleman’s constituents, and I accept that things could have been done better in No. 10, as I have told the House before, but I must ask him to study what Sue Gray has said.”
“We are acting on all her recommendations.”
What other Liverpool City Region MPs have said about Boris and partygate
Mike Amesbury, Labour MP for Weaver Vale and Shadow Housing Minister said to Cheshire Live in January, as the partygate scandal was first developing: “Boris Johnson admitted attending the Downing Street garden party during lockdown on May 20, 2020, at PMQs today, but claims he didn’t realise it was a party!
“He takes us for fools if he thinks we are going to swallow his lies when the rest of the country did the right thing and followed the rules.
“Johnson is bringing dishonour on the office of Prime Minister.”
Paula Barker, Labour MP for Wavertree, said in the House of Commons on the 31 January: “This outrageous debacle hasn’t happened in spite of the Prime Minister, this has happened because of the Prime Minister.
“Will the Prime Minister now do the right thing and resign?”
Peter Dowd, Labour MP for Bootle, demanded that the full Sue Gray report be released.
He tweeted: “Have I got this right? @metpoliceuk refused to investigate @BorisJohnsons as he was being investigated by civil servant, Sue Gray, who interviewed No 10 police officers and may not release her report until @metpoliceuk have investigated @BorisJohnson? I hope not. Publish now.”
Alison McGovern, Labour MP for Wirral South and Shadow Minister for Culture & Sport, tweeted: “Any politician has limited time. Changes can be undone. What persists - & the only route to progress - are the *institutions* we are a part of. Our choice is to make them or break them. Do you make politics work better? Or are you cynical? Boris Johnson fails this test every day.”
Bill Esterson, Labour MP for Sefton Central and Shadow Minister for Trade, had criticism that was a mixture of proverbial and sarcastic.
He tweeted: “This afternoon Boris Johnson will make a statement on Sue Gray’s report. Johnson has Turkish ancestry so he should know the Turkish proverb which says “When a clown moves into a palace he doesn’t become a king. The palace becomes a circus.”
He later said: “Boris Johnson’s response to Sue Gray is to say sorry for getting caught.”
Conor McGinn, Labour MP for St Helens North and Shadow Security Minister, said: “His birthday, his party, his house, his responsibility. Boris Johnson is out of excuses and out of people to blame.”